Thursday, October 24, 2002, Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Give relief from calamity fund, Centre directs Punjab
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 23
The Union Government has put the Punjab Government on the back foot as far as the grant and distribution of the Calamity Relief Fund (CRF) are concerned.

The Union Government wants that the state government should first start the distribution of relief among the drought-hit from Rs 355.77 crore which has been put at its disposal as it was the state’s share in the fund. Sources in the Union Agriculture Ministry told The Tribune that the state government had calculated Rs 353 crore to be paid as relief to farmers for crop loss, unsown area, expenditure on emergency supply of drinking water, feed and fodder for milch cattle and health and medical care etc.

The sources said the Union Government had released the state’s share in the fund. The sources said the Union Government contributed for Punjab Rs 92.04 crore in 2000-01 and Rs 96.64 crore and Rs 101.47 crore in the next two successive financial years. The state government made a contribution of Rs 30.68 crore as its share in 2000-01 and Rs 32.21 crore and Rs 33.82 crore during the next two financial years, respectively. At present the state government had Rs 355.77 crore as CRF money in its treasury.

The sources said the Central Government team which visited the state under the leadership of Mr P.K. Aggarwal, a Joint Secretary in the Union Agriculture Ministry, had taken up the issue of relief distribution from the fund lying at the disposal of the state government.

Sources in the state Revenue Department said that the Finance Department had been asked to release the money from the Calamity Relief Fund for distribution. The Revenue Department has completed all formalities required to distribute drought relief. Even after a special girdawari, a general girdawari has also been conducted. “We are awaiting the release of funds by the Finance Department for doing the needful”, said a senior officer of the Revenue Department.

Meanwhile, the Union Government has started processing the case for assessing the quantum of grant to be provided to the state government from the National Calamity Contingency Relief Fund against the damage caused by drought. The money to be provided from this fund would be over and above Rs 355.77 crore which was lying with the state government. It would take considerable time to process Punjab’s case, it is learnt. Sources said the state government had computed a figure of Rs 6372.38 crore after assessing the loss caused by drought in various sectors such as cooperation, industry, plantation, health care etc. However, as per the norms fixed by the Centre for providing relief, the state government had demanded a relief of Rs 3529.44 crore.

Meanwhile, the union government has not released a single penny for providing Rs 20 per quintal as drought relief on paddy to farmers in Punjab. 


BKU activists block traffic
Sushil Goyal
Tribune news Service

Morinda, October 23
Activists of the BKU (Lakhowal), led by Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, president of the state unit of the union, today blocked traffic and held a protest dharna for one and a half hours against the non-payment for sugarcane to the tune of about Rs 80 crore to farmers by the sugar mills in the state.

Due to the blockade on the Ludhiana-Chandigarh road here, vehicular traffic was diverted to alternative routes.

Addressing the dharna, Mr Lakhowal announced if their demands were not accepted by the state government by November 9, the union would chalk out further agitational programme under which “social boycott” of the state ministers would be done and the ministers would be gheraoed at Chandigarh. He said their agitation would continue till their demands were accepted.

Mr Lakhowal also urged the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, not to arrest the party members of the SAD in a revengeful manner and should stop the ongoing ‘drama’ regarding the arrest of Mr Parkash Singh Badal. He said Capt Amarinder Singh should also put those Congress leaders and ministers behind bars, who had allegedly amassed huge wealth during the tenure of former Chief Minister Beant Singh.

Mr Lakhowal said in case the payment of arrea of sugarcane crop of the last season, nearly Rs 80 crore, was not made to the farmers soon, the BKU would organise dharnas in front of the residences of Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, MLA from Morinda and Punjab minister, and Mr Bir Devinder Singh, MLA from Kharar, as the farmers of the Morinda area were yet to receive Rs 13 crore from Morinda Sugar Mill.

The president also urged the Punjab Government to constitute a commission to settle and waive the loans of the farmers. He also urged the Chief Minister to defer the loans taken by the farmers for the next three years. He also told the farmers not to repay their loans if they were unable to do the same and assured them that the BKUwould fight for them.

He also announced that the BKU would not allow the completion of the SYL canal. He said the union had already approached the Supreme Court in favour of Punjab’s rights on the river waters. Mr Lakhowal said the Chief Minister had opened way for protesters by staging a dharna in Delhi in connection with the announcement of MSP for paddy. He said now he could not stop others to hold protest dharnas in favour of their demands.

Talking to mediapersons, Mr Lakhowal termed the recent imposition of power tariff on use of tubewells as “illegitimate”. He said the Punjab Government should make the payment power bills of farmers to the PSEB.

He also urged the state to set up a committee of representatives of farmers’ organisations and government officials to take a decision on the issue of free power to the farmers.

Mr Lakhowal also announced that the BKU would discuss the matter regarding whether to support the proposed mass movement by the SAD at its executive committee meeting. He said neither the Congress nor the SAD was sincere towards the demands of the farmers.

Mr Lakhowal also stated that the election of the Punjab unit of the BKU would be held at Ludhiana on December 17 for which the membership drive was already in progress.


What made Ghuman sing different tune
SGPC presidential poll
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 23
The emergence of a seven-member core group of SGPC members, led by Mr Mal Singh Ghuman, has added yet another flavour to the raging controversy over the alleged government interference in the religious affairs of the Sikhs.

While the SGPC and the SAD are persistent and insist that SGPC members owing allegiance to Mr Parkash Singh Badal are facing harassment and are being hounded by the police, the state has repeatedly denied the allegations, saying that it is an internal religious affair and it mattered little to the government as to who becomes the SGPC President!

SGPC President, Kirpal Singh Badungar on Tuesday lodged an oral complaint with Chief Secretary Y.S. Ratra, bringing to his notice the ‘’police excesses’’ against SGPC members and demanded a stop to such coersion. Mr Ratra, on his part, has reportedly conveyed the ‘’sentiments’’ of Mr Badungar to the Principal Secretary (Home), Mr S.K. Sinha.

Amidst daily reports of SGPC members or their families being either ‘’shadowed’’ or ‘’intimidated’’ by the police to vote and support the Tohra faction the sudden appearance of Mr Ghuman in a different mode has surprised political circles.

The prime reason behind the position taken by Mr Ghuman is reportedly the vigilance inquiry report against him as Chairman of the Punjab Mandi Board. As per the report, he has reportedly left behind many skeletons in the cupboards of the board.

TNS is in possession of a copy of the ‘’interim’’ report by the Superintendent of Police (Vigilance), Ludhiana, who had probed the charges against Mr Ghuman. The report clearly indicts Mr Ghuman on several serious charges of corruption and gives details of how he allegedly committed irregularities in his capacity as Chairman of the board. The report also gives complete details on the charges levelled against Mr Ghuman and the scale of the scam during his tenure as Chairman is to the tune of Rs 32 crore.

Name any irregularity, the vigilance report says, Mr Ghuman’s name figures in it. May that be in connection with matters concerning staff and employees (promotion, transfer, reinstatement or discharge in corruption cases), letting off defaulter rice shellers and arhtiyas caught by the board’s flying squad allegedly after receiving huge sums of money from them etc.

The report gives a vivid description as to how Mr Ghuman reportedly would just file the ‘’damaging complaints’’ and reports that smacked of corruption and embezzlement. There are instances given in the vigilance report wherein Mr Ghuman even reportedly returned the fines imposed by the Mandi Board’s flying squad. He pardoned even those who did not pay various mandatory ‘’fees’’ on produce.

It is alleged that the government has skilfully employed the Vigilance Bureau report against Mr Ghuman and ‘’use’’ him to embarrass Mr Badal and work for Mr Tohra by raising the new banner of ‘’depoliticising’’ the SGPC and ‘’separating’’ religion from politics. The talk of an alleged ‘’deal’’, has added a new flavour to the raging SGPC/SAD-government controversy.

During his days as Chief Minister Mr Badal had reportedly ‘’used ‘’ Mr Ghuman to take on Mr Tohra and ‘’fix him’’ after five of Tohra-loyalist ministers had quit in December, 1998, shortly before the tercentenary celebrations of the Khalsa in April, 1999.

The SGPC and the Badal led-SAD have already dubbed the seven-member core group as yet another ‘’protege’’ of the Congress, created in connivance with the likes of Mr Tohra and Mr Ravi Inder Singh. Mr Ghuman had first hit the headlines when he held a meeting of 20 SGPC members belonging to both Badal-Tohra warring factions at Anandpur Sahib last week. It had raised a banner that as a religious organisation, the SGPC should be freed from the shackles of politics and some ‘’neutral’’ person should be elected President of the Sikhs’ mini-parliament.

This development had created political ripples. Mr Parkash Singh reacted by saying that he had not authorised Mr Ghuman to take any such stand and even ridiculed him for claiming to be a “Badal-loyalist’’. 


It’s SGPC vs Cong: Badal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 23
“It’s the SGPC versus the Congress. This time the fight is not between various Akali factions but a no-holds-barred fight between us and the ruling party,” asserts SAD chief and former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. He was in the city to preside over a meeting of senior party leaders to chalk out a strategy to make the agitational programme launched by the party a success.

Those who attended the late-evening meeting at the local Circuit House included the secretary general, Mr S.S. Dhindsa, and the general secretaries, Capt Kanwaljit Singh and Mr B.S. Bhunder, of the party, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, a former SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, Mr Gurdev Badal and Mr Manpreet Badal.

Talking to TNS, Mr Badal alleged that the government was “hijacking the election process.” He said: “Never before in the history of the committee (SGPC) has the state grossly interfered in the internal affairs of the Sikhs. The members are being terrorised into voting for the faction to be installed by the Congress. SP-level officers have been deputed to coerce the members to toe the government line. Guards have been forcibly posted to keep a tab on their movements and those not agreeing are being framed in false cases.”

He said the party was in the second stage of protests after the first round was successful. “The people are fed up with the government which has initiated no major developmental activity in the state and is concentrating solely on setting political scores with their opponents with the help of handpicked and pliable police officers,” he said.

Mr Dhindsa said the party had not yet decided on the candidate but it was the prerogative of the party to choose candidates. The Congress was playing up the issue in our case when they themselves decided the Chief Ministers in Delhi. “What is wrong if we do so?” he questioned. He said the practice of selecting the SGPC chief by the SAD chief had been followed since 1925.

Mr Badal categorically dismissed the self-styled third front who are advocating the non-politicisation of the poll. “It is another gimmick floated by the Congress in tandem with Mr Tohra and Mr Ravi Inder Singh. They want to wrest the control of parliament of the Sikhs at any cost, he added.

Commenting on the reported differences between him and Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, Mr Badal said the latter was a senior and esteemed colleague and they had no differences. “Even then, I appeal to him to take part in the party programmes,” he said.


Vigilance probe against ex-VC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 23
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau has ordered an inquiry against Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, a former Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, in connection with the appointment of Dr Yogesh Sharma as officiating Chief Medical Officer, ignoring the rules.

Mr A.P. Pandey, Director-cum- ADGP, Vigilance Bureau, said today Mr S.S. Sandhu, Chief Engineer, Upper Bari Doab Canal had committed a fraud amounting to Rs 1 crore in laying one crore cement bags filled with sand along the banks of the canal without obtaining any departmental permission. A probe had been initiated in this case.

As many as 20 junior engineers were promoted ignoring the rules and tampering with the record. In these promotions huge bribes were paid.

An inquiry had been initiated against suspected officials of the PWD (B and R) in this regard.

Another probe had been initiated against certain officers of the Punjab Mandi Board in a case of purchase of corrugated GI sheets.


Chief Engineer’s SOS to CM on bill recovery
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 23
The Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar, district police chiefs and other district officers of the border zone comprising Gurdaspur and Amritsar found themselves in an uncomfortable position when the Chief Engineer, PSEB, in his report sought the immediate intervention of the Chief Minister to get electricity bills amounting to Rs 35 crore pending against them realised.

The Chief Engineer (border zone), Mr C.J. Rai, who read out the report at a meeting addressed by the Chief Minister said the major defaulters included the offices of the Deputy Commissioners, district courts, district police chiefs, municipal corporations, and officers’ and police colonies.

According to details, the Amritsar Municipal Corporation owes Rs 2.5 crore while the offices of the Deputy Commissioners have yet to clear bills totalling Rs 1.7 crore.

The Irrigation Department owes Rs 17 crore, Public Health Department Rs 75 lakh, hospitals Rs 1 crore, Sewer Board Rs 10 lakh district courts Rs 10 lakh and Police Department Rs 30 lakh.

The Chief Engineer told the Chief Minister that repeated reminders to various departments from time to time had failed to bear fruit.

He also suggested that the Chief Minister should try to get a Central scheme worth Rs 600 crore cleared which had been pending with the government for long.

Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, MC Commissioner, informed the Chief Minister that the corporation had liabilities of Rs 20 crore as a result of which no development project could be launched. When he said water and sewer rates could be enhanced his suggestion was opposed by Congress MLAs.

Capt Amarinder Singh said the first priority should be to release funds received for the implementation of Centrally-sponsored schemes and Nabard projects. The state government was finalising various initiatives to seek financial help from international organisations and several projects were in the pipeline. To ensure the inflow of funds, all revenue-earning departments had been asked to achieve the target as per Budget estimates.

He said nodal industry dusters would be developed in the rural areas to provide additional income to farmers.

The Chief Minister promised to release adequate funds to Amritsar for its overall development. He said the government would also ensure the development of the border areas.


Petrol, diesel supply resumed
Tribune Reporter

Jalandhar, October 23
The supply of petrol and diesel to petrol stations, was today resumed by the petrol tanker operators, following an assurance by the major oil companies to hold negotiations with the operators’ union on October 26 in presence of the Secretary and Director of the Food and Supplies Department, Punjab.

As tanker operators started lifting petroleum products from all three oil terminals and an oil depot after their four-day strike, the supply to various petrol stations in the state is likely to become normal by tomorrow.

Though yesterday’s negotiations between the oil companies and the tanker operators had failed, the issue was resolved today following the intervention of the Punjab Food and Supplies Minister Mr Lal Singh, who reportedly ordered the Secretary and the director of the department to find a solution to the problem.

The minister, it was learnt, also directed officials of the department to take up the matter with the oil companies and to organise their meeting with the protesting operators. “The oil companies have agreed to hold a meeting with us for negotiations on October 26 in the presence of the Food Supply Secretary and the Director,” said Mr Davinder Singh Babu, president of the Punjab Petroleum Tanker Operators Union. He said the union had decided to resume the supply of petroleum products with immediate effect to save people from inconvenience.

Meanwhile, even as oil supply was resumed by operators, almost all petrol stations here had gone dry, causing inconvenience to people.

BATHINDA: People of the city have been rushing to nearby towns of Haryana and Rajasthan to arrange petrol for their vehicles. As most of the petrol pumps of the city had gone dry by Tuesday night. Daily commuters to Dabwali town in Haryana boarding the district, were requested to arrange some petrol by their relatives and friends.

Some of the petrol station owners alleged minted money by selling petrol at Rs 35 per litre. Owners of some diesel stations in nearby villages also sold petrol.

Long queues were seen at a petrol station on the Bathinda-Goniana road here, which had some stock of petrol and diesel. Some residents went to the dumping stations of the Indian Oil Corporation and the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation at Phoos Mand village about 15 km from here, to arrange fuel for their vehicles.

PHAGWARA: People heaved a sigh of relief as the supply of petrol and diesel resumed late on Wednesday evening after the petrol tanker operators called off their strike. All 13 petrol stations of the town had earlier gone dry due to the strike and long queues of vehicles could be seen at a local petrol station which was the only one having some stock of petrol.


Mardana society writes to Pervez on gurdwara funds
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 23
Peeved about the alleged misappropriation of gurdwara funds in Pakistan by senior officers of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) along with some Sikhs from other countries, Mr Harpal Singh Bhuller, president of the International Bhai Mardana Yaadgaar Kirtan Darbar Society (IBMYKDS), in a written communication to Gen Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan President, has highlighted alleged mismanagement of Sikh shrines in Pakistan.

In the letter, he stated that the Sikhs were deeply hurt by the alleged misappropriation of gurdwara funds and advised that the management of Pakistan gurdwaras be handed over to the World Sikh Organisation from the PSGPC and the SGPC.

In a fax message to The Tribune here yesterday, while welcoming the formation of a three-member committee to probe into alleged embezzlement of gurdwara funds, he stated that UK-based Surjit Singh along with Peter John Salotara, Minorities Minister and Administration in the UK, had collected Rs 2.5 crore for the new building of “langar hall” at Nankana Sahib in Pakistan, but actually had spent only Rs 65 lakh on it. The matter had been handed over to the PSGPC Chairman, Lieut-Gen Javed Nasir, for inquiry.

However, he stated that recently a scandal of Rs 1.67 crore and 12 kg of gold had come to light in which both UK-based Sikh leaders, Lieut-Gen Javed Nasir and Lieut-Gen A.U. Niazi, both Chairmen of the PSGPC, had been named. A case of grabbing of funds, accrued from the rent of gurdwara shops, by a Pakistan-based Sikh was also a matter of concern, he added.

Mr Bhuller reminded General Musharraf of declarations, made by General Nasir last year on the behalf of the President, remaining unimplemented. These include holiday on Guru Nanak Dev ji’s birthday and its broadcast on PTV, inclusion of the history of Guru Nanak Dev ji in school syllabus, removal of encroachments from Pakistan gurdwaras and kar seva of gurdwaras to be given to Indian and European Sikhs.


Vehicle misuse: no action against PCS officer
Chander Prakash
Tribune News Service

Mansa, October 23
The Punjab Government has been probing the alleged acts of omission and commission by members of the previous SAD-BJP regime, civil servants and police officers but it seems to have ignored to take action against a PCS officer for the alleged misuse of his official vehicle. He was allegedly caught by Vigilance Bureau officials in surprise checking for misusing his official vehicle.

Official sources said that Vigilance Bureau officials had recommended to the Deputy Commissioner, Mansa, where the PCS officer was posted, for departmental action against the officer concerned but nothing seems to have come out of it so far, as the report of the Deputy Commissioner for suitable action on the Vigilance Bureau’s recommendation has been lying in the office of Commissioner, Faridkot Division.

Sources added that the report had been in the office of Commissioner, Faridkot division for the past many weeks. However, the guilty official concerned had been posted to a significant post in Sangrur district by the state government in the recent past.

In July 2002, several teams of the Vigilance Bureau, Bathinda Range, made a surprise checking of various areas falling under it and found that four officials of state government had been misusing the official vehicles.

Thereafter the Vigilance Bureau Department, made investigations and sent its report to the departments concerned for action against the officials concerned.

Mr Baljinder Singh Grewal, SP (Vigilance), Bathinda Range, said that he was not aware of the action, which the authorities concerned had taken against the official concerned as the misuse of official vehicle was not a small offence.

During the surprise checking senior civil officials including the PCS official, posted in Mansa were found misusing official vehicles for thousands of kilometres for private use.

One of the official was found misusing the official vehicle for visiting his house located in Chandigarh from his place of posting in this region under the pretext of attending an official meeting. Mr Kamaljit Sharma, Superintendent, Commissioner Office, Faridkot, said that as the Commissioner was on leave.


Notice issued on Bibi’s plea
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 23
Issuing notice of motion for October 30 on a petition filed by former SGPC President Bibi Jagir Kaur seeking the quashing of a notification issued in July this year vide which earlier Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission was restored and another notification issued in January, 1999, was rescinded, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today restrained the respondents from passing final orders.

In her petition, taken up by the Bench, comprising Chief Justice Mr B.K. Roy and Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi, the Bibi also asked for directions to restrain the members from functioning and deciding cases pending before the Commission. She had claimed that the government by issuing the impugned notification had rescinded the 1999 resolution vide which Mr Manmohan Singh Brar, Mr Ajwant Singh Mann and Mr Amrik Singh Randhawa had been appointed. The government, by the same notification, had also restored the earlier Commission, she added.

The Bibi further stated that the July notification was totally illegal, void ab-inition and unsustainable in the eyes of the law “particularly after a decision of the Full Bench holding that the term of a Commission member was co-terminus and co-tenuous with that of the SGPC”. Giving details, she had added that elections for constituting the SGPC were held in October, 1996, and other members appointed by the 1999 notification were liable to continue till fresh elections were not held.

Going into the background of the case, she had added that the Congress Government had issued the impugned notification as a part of its design to enable former SGPC President G.S. Tohra to regain his lost position. Counsel for the petitioner had added that the Commission members were “proceeding to hear and determine cases particularly those against Mr Tohra’s political opponents”.

SSP told to conduct probe

In an alleged illegal detention case, Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday ordered Ludhiana’s Senior Superintendent of Police to “personally conduct an inquiry into the matter for verifying whether the alleged detainees had been harassed as well as illegally detained by the police”.

Pronouncing the orders, Mr Justice Nijjar ruled: “It has been vehemently argued by counsel for the petitioner that the respondents were pressurising the alleged detainess, released on bail, to withdraw the petition. He has handed over to the Court certain information which prima facie tends to show that the respondent Tarsem Singh — Deputy Superintendent of Police Headquarters in Haibowal Kalan — has deliberately filed a false affidavit.... The document which has been handed over is directed to be sent to the SSP along with the entire paper book of this petition. Let the papers be sent to the SSP in a sealed cover and it should be ensured that the papers are only opened by him.”

The Judge concluded: “After the receipt of the papers from this Court, the SSP is directed to submit a report to this Court within four weeks. The doctor, present in person, is also directed to file an affidavit as to why proper procedure was not followed when the alleged detainee was produced at hospital on September 14.”


Waste management plant likely near Dera Bassi
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 23
In a bid to target industries spewing hazardous waste in the Dera Bassi - Lalru area, the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has decided to establish a Hazardous Waste Management site near Dera Bassi even as it has directed the Municipal Corporations in the state to arrange land for landfill sites.

Sources disclosed that the site was being developed in collaboration with the Punjab State Industry and Export Corporation (PSIEC) which is in the process of inviting tenders for the purpose from private parties. They said the project was likely to cost about Rs 10 crore and that the Central Government would put in a share of Rs 2 crore.

At present the industries generating hazardous waste are storing the waste within their premises. However, as this is not the recommended mode of storage a common facility for the storage and disposal of hazardous waste has been conceived by the Pollution Control Board.

Sources said the private party which will be awarded the work would be responsible for the transport of hazardous waste from the industries and for storing it in a scientific manner. A time frame till March next year has been fixed for setting up the facility following which the problems faced by the industries that have to store the hazardous waste in their premises will be solved.

Meanwhile, the PPCB has also decided to implement the Municipal Solid Waste Rules in toto under which the existing landfill sites were to be improved by December last year by setting up hedging, fencing and tree plantation in the area. However, the sources said some of the Municipal Councils still did not have any land of their own and that they had been directed to arrange land for landfill sites by December this year. Board officials have held meetings with the Deputy Commissioners, Deputy Director, Local Government and Executive Officers of all the municipal bodies in this regard and have requested the Deputy Commissioners to arrange land for councils that did not have any of their own or where land available was inadequate for establishing landfills.

Municipal bodies have, meanwhile, also been asked to segregate their garbage into bio-degradable and non-biodegradable variety and to do composting of biodegradable garbage by December 31 this year. Sources said at present a private party was installing the composting plant for the Jalandhar Municipal Corporation at a cost of Rs 3 crore. They said if this plant ran successfully and the contractor was able to recover his investment, more compost plants could be set up in other areas of the state.

According to sources some other local bodies were taking up other options to deal with solid waste. These included the Patiala Municipal Corporation which is presently holding talks with a French firm, Onax, which has submitted a proposal to carry out door-to-door collection of garbage of part of the city on the same pattern as was being done by it in Chennai. The firm will dump the garbage at a dump site allocated to it. The corporation is holding talks with another American firm, Terrafirm, which has offered to produce tiles from solid waste by burning it and also promised that 25 per cent of the power so generated would be given to the corporation for its streetlight operations.



MC dissolves mohalla sudhar committee
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 23
The Patiala Municipal Corporation yesterday dissolved 46 “Mohalla Sudhar Committees” working in the city in tandem with the corporation on the sanitation front.

The ‘sudhar committees”, which had been formed during the tenure of the previous Akali-BJP government, had been instituted with the task of helping the corporation to clean up the city, particularly the outer colonies for whom the corporation could not depute sweepers.

Under an arrangement worked out with the committees, which were constituted at the “mohalla” level, each committee was given Rs 1200 by the corporation to hire a sweeper on the condition that the committee itself put in an equal amount of money to pay to the sweeper through contribution from residents of the area.

Talking to TNS, Mayor Vishnu Sharma said that he had received reports claiming the facility was being abused by some committees. He said there had been reports that some committees did not pay their share of the contribution to the sweepers hired by them. He said there had also been reports of some committees which had been formed against the norms with few committees covering only a few houses which was against the aim of the scheme.

The Mayor said the committees would be reconstituted after a review of the functioning of the present committees. He said the new committees would be formed through recommendations of the Councillor of the respective area and that the Councillor would be responsible for ensuring the committee paid its share of contribution to sweepers hired by it. He said presently the corporation was paying Rs 1200 per month to 98 sweepers hired by the committees with some of them hiring more than one sweeper and even three sweepers according to their perceived need. He said this utilisation would also be reviewed.

Mr Sharma said the Corporation Act allowed for the formulation of such volunteer committees in areas where the corporation could not post its safai karamchari due to shortage of staff or other reasons.

He said the increase in the number of new colonies in the Municipal limits had forced the corporation to go in for establishment of the committees, adding their functioning, however, needed to be reviewed from time to time to ensure they fulfilled the reason behind their establishment. 


Dang writes to CM, seeks probe report
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 23
CPI leader Satya Pal Dang has in a letter to the Chief Minister, said the Vigilance Bureau had raided the administrative offices of Guru Nanak Dev University and taken away several files some months ago.

He said: “since the results of the inquiry have not been reported, it seems that some records have possibly been tampered with.”

Alleging that the case had been hushed up he urged the Chief Minister to ask the Secretary, Vigilance, or the Chief Secretary to call for the files.

He also said a senior professor was being shielded in a fake admission racket case.


Relay fast by telecom staff
Tribune Reporters

Ferozepore, October 23
The district unit of the BSNL Executive Officers Association and the Telecom Engineers Officers Association today observed a relay fast that will continue till October 25.

They also held a protest rally demanding E-2 to E-5 pay scales for junior telecom officers and divisional engineers before their absorption into BSNL. These officials are still employees of the Department of Telecommunications and have been getting salary as per the existing government rules.

HOSHIARPUR: In continuation of the trade union action programme, 13 members of the local Telecom Engineering Officers Association on a relay fast sat in front of the office the General Manager, Telecom.

Their main demands include IDA pay scale for executives in MTNL and BSNL, payment of pension by government and time-bond promotion.

KULU: The Executive Negotiating Council of the Telecom Engineering Officers Association (India) and BSNL Executives Association jointly staged a dharna in front of the office of the Telecom District Officer here to support of their demands relating to absorption issue and pay scales.

In a joint press note here, Anil Mahant, District Secretary, TEOA (I) and Naresh Thakur, Circle Secretary, BSNLEA (I), said all group ‘B’ officers presently working on deemed deputation in BSNL or MTNL were governed by the same service conditions and CDA pay scales as of any other public sector undertaking. They were also governed by the same pension rules, therefore, the IDA pay scales should be the same in BSNL and MTNL.


Hearing on Gurdev Badal’s bail plea adjourned
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 23
Mr A.S. Kathuria, Special Judge, Ropar, today fixed October 26 as the next date of hearing on the anticipatory bail application of Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, MLA from Panj Grianan and former Punjab Agriculture Minister, which was filed by him apprehending his arrest by the Vigilance Bureau in a criminal and corruption case.

The Special Judge adjourned the hearing to October 26 on the anticipatory bail application due to the non-production of police record of the case by the prosecution agency in the court.

In his anticipatory bail application filed on October 16 in the court of Session Judge, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal had apprehended his arrest and maltreatment at the hands of the Vigilance in a case under Sections 409 and 420 of the IPC and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. 


Evidence of Garcha kin’s fake society: VB
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 23
Punjab Vigilance Bureau officials said here today that they had documentary evidence about a fake society headed by Kehar Singh, father of former Minister Jagdish Singh Garcha. The society has Rupees one crore in its bank account.

The Bureau has also decided to summon 95 ad-hoc employees of the Punjab Technical University (PTU), who were alleged to be appointed at the behest of the former minister flouting norms, to join investigation into the recruitment scam.

Thirty-five such employees belonged to Kila Raipur, the constituency represented by Garcha. The Bureau is trying to expose the scam by interrogating the employees also. The Bureau has also recovered some documentary evidence about “Kehar Educational Society” allegedly headed by the father of the former minister. According to sources, the society comprised 11 members including Jagdish Singh Garcha, his three brothers and their wives, wife of PTU Director, A.S. Grewal and the wife of former PTU Vice-Chancellor Dr H.S. Gurm.

The sources further revealed that they had recovered a fixed deposit receipt for Rs 75 lakh in the name of the society. The accused, according to Bureau sources, had forcibly collected Rs 25 lakh, while one of the former minister’s brother had donated Rs 50 lakh to the society. Bureau personnel have not been able to nab the remaining two accused, son of the former minister, Parminder Singh Garcha, and the PTU VC Dr H.S. Gurm though they raided some of their hideouts in Delhi, Himachal and Chandigarh. The Bureau has sounded all international airport authorities on the identity of the remaining accused and asked them to stop them from fleeing the country.


Garcha, Grewal remanded till October 25
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 23
A city court today extended the police remand of former Technical Education Minister and sitting Akali MLA Jagdish Singh Garcha and Punjab Technical University (PTU) Director (Outreach) Amarjit Singh Grewal till Friday.

They were produced in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, (CJM) Mr A.S. Grewal here this afternoon, who extended the police remand for two more days after listening to the arguments of both prosecution and defence sides.


CM ‘ignores’ ex-Mayor
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 23
Former Mayor Mr Om Parkash Soni, was reportedly ignored by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who had his lunch at the local Circuit House and not at the former’s residence. Mr Soni had distributed cards announcing the lunch of the Chief Minister at his residence here today. Mr Soni had recently joined the Congress despite strong opposition.

The Mayor, Mr Sunil Datti, Mr R.L. Bhatia, MP, had organised the lunch for Capt Amarinder Singh at the Circuit House.

It may be recalled that Mr Soni and Mr Bhatia are sworn rivals as the former allegedly slapped the latter a few years ago, leading to the ouster of Mr Soni from the Congress. However, Mr Soni was reinducted into the party after approaching the Chief Minister.


New ISD telephony service
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, October 23
In a press note here today, Mr Mohan Lal, General Manager (Telecom), Hoshiarpur, stated that Internet ISD Telephony Service had been started throughout Hoshiarpur SSA. Internet telephone subscribers of the BSNL having multimedia computers and headphones would be able to make ISD calls through the Internet with the help of Webfone cards at cheaper rates. These cards could be obtained from customer service centres at Hoshiarpur, Balachaur, Mahilpur, Tanda and Dasuya.

Through this service, ISD calls to USA/UK could be made at a nominal rate of Rs 4.5 per minute.


Coop mill’s former MD surrenders
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, October 23
Mr Rajan Malhotra, one of the four former Managing Directors (MDs) of the Kotkapura Cooperative Spinning Mills, Sandhwan, who was allegedly involved in the embezzlement of more than Rs 80 lakh of the provident fund of employees and workers of the mills, surrendered before the police here today.

Mr Malhotra, who had already got an anticipatory bail in this connection, was interrogated by the police, who later let him off after getting his bail documents, said the district police chief, Mr Harinder Singh Chahal.

Another former MD, Mr Sukhdev Kapoor, was arrested by the local police on October 13 and is under judicial custody. The other two former MDs, Mr S.P. Dhaiya and Mr V.P. Gupta, are still at large. According to Mr Chahal, the workers had lodged a complaint at the Kotkapura police station against the mills management for not paying their general provident fund in spite of repeated requests to the officers.


4 advocates’ arrest stayed till Oct 24
Our Correspondent

Mansa, October 23
A court here stayed the arrest of four advocates Dalip Singh, Jagjit Singh, Kuldeep Singh and Harcharan Singh Sidhu till October 24.

A case under Sections 420 and 468 of the IPC and Sections 7 and 12 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 was registered against the advocates. Earlier also an application for bail was filed by three advocates out of the above four on October 18. The said application was sent to the court of District Sessions Judge, Bathinda for the transfer of the same to some other court by Special Judge, Mansa as the special judge for personal reasons did not want to hear the applicants’ bail application. The District and Sessions Judge, Bathinda returned the said bail application on the same day to the court of Mr Harbans Lal, Special Judge, Mansa to decide the said bail application on merits.

On October 19 when the application came up for hearing, the complainant Maghar Singh on whose instance the case was registered appeared in the court and filed an application stating that he wanted the bail application transferred out of Bathinda Sessions Court’s jurisdiction and sought time to approach Punjab and Haryana High Court. On this, the above advocates withdrew their application for bail and filed fresh bail application yesterday. The advocates of the local Bar Association who were on strike, resumed work today following decision in the court. 


Judicial remand for 2 arhtiyas till Nov 6
Our Correspondent

Raman Mandi (Bathinda) October 23
Mr Davinder Kumar and Mr Ashok Kumar, both arhtiyas of this town, were today sent to Central Jail at Bathinda in judicial custoday till November 6, by a court at Talwandi Sabo, under the jurisdiction of which this town comes.

A case against these commission agents was registered by Kot Fatta police station under Sections 306, 34 of the IPC allegedly for driving a farmer to suicide. Sources said here today that a farmer of Darewalla village near here committed suicide in May this year. Jagroop Singh, committed suicide by consuming a poisonous substance and had allegedly blamed these commission agents in his suicide note.

The inquiry into the case was conducted by an SP and the report was submitted to the DIG concerned. The farmers’ unions had played key role in this case. The orders to register a case against the commission agents were issued after studying the report.

Bail applications of the accused were rejected by the court.

The accused were arrested yesterday evening and produced in a court at Talwandi Sabo.

Meanwhile the commission agents of this town protested against the registration of the case against the traders.


Boy shies away from receiving mother’s body
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 23
A boy, who had gone to the office of the NGO to claim the body of his mother, did not receive it after allegedly coming to know that he would not be entitled to the pension his mother had been drawing.

Mr Vijay Goyal, president of the Sahara Jan Seva, an NGO here, in a statement on Monday, said Gurmail Kaur, who died three days ago, had been drawing pension from Indian Army following the death of her husband. The body of the deceased had been lying with the NGO which had been trying to find out the kin of the deceased.

Mr Goyal said a boy came to the office of the organisation on Sunday evening and said the deceased was his mother. After a meeting with the volunteers of the NGO, the boy went home stating that he would come back with his relatives. But he might had come to know that he would not be able to draw the pension his mother had been getting and also as the deceased had no property or other assets, Mr Goyal said.

The body was consigned to flames by the NGO, Mr Goyal said.


Animal welfare camp at Chunni Kalan
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 23
The district Animal and Husbandry Department in collaboration with the Chunni Kalan branch of State Bank of Patiala today organised a massive animal welfare and awareness camp at Chunni Kalan village, first of its own kind in the state. The camp was organised to educate the people about the welfare, problems and how to look after their animals. The department also announced to adopt the village in the district and to make it as a model village in the field of animal welfare.

Addressing the gathering at the camp, Dr R.C. Punj, Deputy Director, Animal Husbandry, urged the people to get their animals treated only from qualified vets and they should avoid and shun quacks. He urged the people to immediately call the services of vets whenever they apprehend any problem. He said that animals should be treated like human beings.

Mr S.K. Ghai, assistant general manager, SBOP, inaugurated the camp and in his inaugural address, he apprised the villagers of latest bank schemes relating to agriculture and allied activities, housing sectors and commercial dairies. He called upon the people to get the benefit of these schemes to earn their livelihood. He said that the bank had also introduced various other schemes for different professions. He assured full cooperation from the bank to every customer.

Dr S.K. Khullar, president of the Veterinary Officers Association, said in this camp more than 1000 animals were treated by qualified vets and a large number of people from the adjoining 30 villages participated. He emphasised on production of hygienic milk from healthy animals.

The farmers’ representatives appealed to the government to abolish the charges for vaccination and demanded adequate staff in hospitals, medicines and other infrastructure.

On this occasion 10 outstanding dairy farmers were also honoured. The officers of the district administration, various departments like poultry, fisheries and Punjab Agriculture University vets also addressed and treated animals.


PVC recipient Joginder Singh remembered
Our Correspondent

Moga, October 23
Wreaths were laid on the bronze statue of Param Vir Chakra (PVC) recipient Subedar Joginder Singh, installed on the premises of the Deputy Commissioner complex, by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr G. Romesh Kumar, and others on his 41st death anniversary today.

Subedar Joginder Singh lost his life while fighting with Chinese soldiers.

Subedar Joginder Singh’s wife Gurdial Kaur was honoured with a shawl by the Deputy Commissioner. Col Darshan Singh, vice-president, Zila Sainik Board, also honoured her.


Preneet inaugurates complex  on Capt’s behalf
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 23
Ms Preneet Kaur, Patiala MP, who has, by now, got used to standing in for her husband, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, at various functions here, created another scoop yesterday when she “inaugurated” a residential complex that was to be inaugurated by her husband.

Though this is nothing new, what seemed jarring was that the organisers had put up a commemoration plaque, on which, it was written that the CM would inaugurate the complex “accompanied” by his wife.

Ms Preneet Kaur unveiled this plaque at a function organised in the Bhupindera Road area, inaugurating City Centre Apartments. The Improvement Trust, which organised the function, knew since yesterday that the CM would not be able to attend the function, but made no attempt to change the writing on the plaque.

At the inauguration, Ms Preneet Kaur said the Congress government had prepared a development map for Patiala. She said, in the first phase, the tasks of providing citizens with adequate drinking water and extending sewerage facilities to outer colonies were being taken up. The Centre had already released money for this. She said other projects included development of a town on the Sirhind road near Baran village under the Counter-Magnet Town Scheme of the Centre.

Earlier, after the inaugural function, the Improvement Trust Administrator, Mr Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon, said the Rs 9.14 crore residential complex would house 82 families. He said the complex had been equipped with modern facilities like lifts and fire-extinguishers.

Mr Dhillon said the the complex also had a swimming pool, a community centre and independent garages for individual family units. While the HIG flats had three bedrooms each, the HIG Super flats had three bedrooms and a servant quarter each.



Chimpanzee’s performance in circus banned
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 23
The district administration has banned performance of a chimpanzee at the Jumbo Circus, which is holding shows in the city.

The administration held that the performance of the chimpanzee amounted to cruelty to animals. The chimpanzee was shown driving a train during a performance, in which he was tied with chains to the train.

Mr Shakher Garg, a resident of the city lodged a complaint in this regard with the Animal Welfare Board of India at its office in Ludhiana. Subsequently, an Executive Member of the board, Dr Sandeep K. Jain, asked the District Magistrate, Bathinda, to look into the matter.

The district administration was asked to see whether the rules framed by Union Government regarding performance by animals were being properly followed by the circus owners or not and submit a report in this regard.

Mr Garg had stated in his complaint that the item, which was supposed to entertain children, actually scared them as chains were used to tie the animal with the train. He sought action to stop cruelty towards the animal in the name of entertainment.


Forest Dept violating rules: association
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 23
Mr Ajit Kumar Gupta, founder of the Forest Conservation Association, Punjab, in a statement here yesterday alleged that the Forest Department had failed to protect forest cover in the state and had even violated the Forest Conservation Act (FCA).

He said they had written to the Chief Minister, Forest Minister and other authorities, pointing out the irregularities in the working of the department.

He said no forest division in the state had accurate information about the forest cover in their respective areas.


Paddy worth crores awaits lifting
Our Correspondent

Moga, October 23
Despite District Administration’s assurance that paddy from grain markets here would be lifted to make room for fresh arrivals only 60 per cent stock has been cleared. A member of the Moga Foodgrain Traders Federation said here today that nearly eight lakh bags of paddy worth over Rs 16 crore were lying in the market and these were not lifted there would be loss of crores in the event of rain. They urged the administration that the stock should be lifted soon. Similarly huge stock of paddy worth crores were lying unlifted at many purchasing centres.

On payments traders said that they had received the cheque of the stock sold till October 8. While payments from all government agencies had not been received yet. They urged the government to make payments of the stocks sold to it in the current month. 


No electricity duty on farm sector
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 23
Facing a serious political challenge on the tariff issue, the Punjab Government today decided not to include electricity duty in the power tariff imposed on the agricultural sector.

In a statement issued here today, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said it would provide an annual relief of Rs 15 crore to farmers. The state government would bear this cost from its budgetary resources.


Held for nephew’s murder
Our Correspondent

Sunam, October 23
Body of a boy was found from a barley field in village Satoj 12 km from here. Dispute over land is said to have led to the death of the boy.

Mr Amardeep Singh, Rai SSP, Sangrur in a press note here today said that Sandeep Singh an eight years-old boy had been missing from his village since October 18. Mr Rai added that Mr Jarnail Singh, father of the deceased had complained to the police regarding the missing of his son.

Mr Rai said investigation revealed that Mr Labh Singh an uncle of Sandeep Singh had called Sandeep to his farm and strangled him there and concealed the body of the deceased in barley field of Kala Singh.

Mr Rai said that Labh Singh, the accused has four brothers and he wanted to take revenge on his two brothers Jarnail Singh (father of Sandeep) and Bhagwan Singh who had land of his two brothers, Mr Beant Singh and Hare Ram transferred in their names (Jarnail Singh and Bhagwan Singh) ignoring Mr Labh Singh then Labh Singh wanted the land distributed equally among three brothers (Jarnail Singh, Bhagwan Singh and Labh Singh).

Mr Rai further said a case has been registered against Labh Singh and he had been arrested.


Bringing IT benefits to villages
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 23
Though web interface is common only among elite and IT literates and has not yet percolated to the village level where a majority of the Indian population resides yet the district administration and the National Informatics Centre, Punjab, which is pioneering the implementation of various information technology projects in Punjab, have once again made a mark by bringing the benefits of information technology on the doorsteps of the public, especially the downtrodden and senior citizens, by implementing a telephone-based interactive voice response (IVR) system in Fatehgarh Sahib district, the first district to do so in the country.

According to Mr Vikas Pratap, Deputy Commissioner, the rural populace would benefit from this technology. He said the use of this technology was not only cost-effective for the government but also for the people. He said such IT telephone-based systems were already in use in some Central Government departments and now the district administration had made use of the same to reach out to the masses rather than implementing IT-based systems only for the elite. He said the system had been developed initially for the Department of Social Security to cater to the problems being faced by senior citizens and the downtrodden. With the implementation of this technology, they would not be required to visit district offices or banks from far-flung areas to know the status of their applications and disbursement of pension. He said the technology would bring the IT on the doorstep of citizens and e-governance would be implemented in the true sense. The system had been designed and developed using Punjabi for the convenience of the people.

Mr Vikas Pratap said once the system became popular with the masses, similar systems would be introduced for other services being provided by the district administration to the public. The district was also planning to shortly launch the single window system for public interface where arms licences, character verification, counter-signatures and other miscellaneous services would be provided at a single counter. It would solve the problem being faced by the public regarding knowing procedures and formalities.

According to Mr Navneet Kukerja, Director, NIC, Punjab, the Dialup-based Citizen IT Interface Project (Dial CITY) was a dream project for the state and had been developed under the ongoing e-governance project for Fatehgarh Sahib district. It was the first of its kind in India, where the district administration was reaching out to the masses through information technology. Dial CITI has a resemblance to the voice mail or auto-attendant system. The interactive voice response system application is one where the caller dials a given telephone number and the computer plays the part of an operator giving out the desired information. Recorded prompts are spoken to a caller and the keypad of a normal telephone is used by the caller as an input device in response.

Dial CITI brings a host of services. A user-friendly automated service menu offers citizens convenient access to information.

The system would be on display at the sixth national conference on e-governance being inaugurated by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, on October 24 at Hotel Mountview in Chandigarh, said Mr Banga, District Informatics Officer and System Analyst, Fatehgarh Sahib. 


Students await result
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, October 23
A number of students of the area, who have appeared in the entrance test for various computer courses, conducted by the PTU in September, are finding themselves in a queer situation, as their results have not been declared.

Some students told to this correspondent that the PTU conducted examination from September 12 to 25 at Government Senior Secondary School here and it was learnt that their answer sheets were still lying at the examination centre.

Nobody knew, when the PTU would get the answer sheets evaluated, they said, apprehending the loss of their precious academic year due to the casual approach of the PTU.

Mr Gurmail Singh, Principal-cum-Controller of the examination centre, confirmed that the answer sheets were still lying there. However, the centre head was not available for comments when contacted on phone by this correspondent.


Science teachers give memo to CM

Amritsar, October 23
As many as 200 science mistress es met Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and submitted a memorandum to him, saying that they were unfairly “tainted” by the Punjab Lok Pal.

The recommendation of their dismissal from service were allegedly made on a complaint that selection committee did not comprise two subjects of university level as members.

Interestingly, only women of science have been recommended to be removed even though no investigation has been initiated for 200 men teachers of science in the same batch.

Many of the women teachers had resigned from their adhoc services from colleges or recognised schools to join their jobs here, the teachers said. 


PU centre director
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 23
Prof S.S. Sooch today took over as Director of the Panjab Univeristy Regional Centre, Muktsar, sources said.

Professor Sooch is a former Principal of Government College, Ludhiana and a former Deputy Director (Colleges), Punjab.


Inter-school judo meet
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 23
Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, today inaugurated the 48th inter-district judo school meet. Participants from 13 districts will be competing for titles in the under 14, 17 and 19 year categories. 

Arrangements for accommodation and diet have been made by the district administration. He added that competitions of boys would be held at SSD Senior Secondary School and those for girls at SSD Kanya Maha Vidayalya.

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